Third Generation is New Focus of Partisan Education

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Aron Bell, the last surviving Bielski brother, with fellow partisan Leah Johnson and her grandson Rabbi Zev Johnson. (photo credit: Renee Ghert-Zand)

Aron Bell, the last surviving Bielski brother, with fellow partisan Leah Johnson and her grandson Rabbi Zev Johnson. (photo credit: Renee Ghert-Zand)

NEW YORK — Four hundred people gathered in New York on Monday to honor the legendary Bielski brothers, the partisan leaders who saved more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

The four brothers, Tuvia, Asael, Zus and Aron, were feted, along with all the partisans of the Bielski Brigade, at the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation’s annual gala dinner.

Some 150 descendants of theBielski partisans, including many of the their grandchildren, attended the dinner.

Eighty-seven-year-old Aron Bell, the youngest and last surviving of the four Bielski brothers, minced no words in instructing the third generation.

“They should be good Jews. That means they should go to the synagogue and support Israel. Supporting Israel is the most important,” he said. “If they don’t, some day they will pay for it.”

The event was not only a celebration of the WWII-era Jewish fighters, but also a chance to recognize members of the third generation who are perpetuating their grandparents’ legacy.

WCBS-TV senior news anchor Dana Tyler was mistress of ceremonies, Professor Alan M. Dershowitz gave the evening’s keynote speech, and “Defiance” actor Liev Schreiber narrated a short film about the partisans. But it was the surviving Bielski brigade members and their grandchildren who were the true stars of the evening.

Click here to read more and watch the trailer for the movie “Defiance,” about the Bielski partisans.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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